Gang initiation killing
A 16-year-old boy has been arrested and charged in what Baltimore police are describing as a gang initation killing in Northwest Baltimore.
The Sun's Justin Fenton reports today that the
victim suspect was being initiated into a set of the Bloods gang, but the precise motive for the killing remains unclear. The victim's mother told Justin there is more to the story. The killing occurred on Oakford Avenue on Dec. 29 and claimed the life of 19-year-old Jeffrey Ward.
Also yesterday, state officials testified in Annapolis to broaden the definition of a gang member and add to the number of crimes eligible for enhanced sentences. Here is a statement issue by Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy on the proposed legislation:
Senate Bill 274 Would Prohibit Felons from Possessing Long Guns, Provide Flexible Sentencing and Up To 15-year Penalty in Felony Gun Possession Cases
Senate Bill 44 Would Expand Firearms to include Long Guns in Crimes of Violence
Senate Bill 563 Would Prohibit Felons from Possessing Ammunition
Baltimore, MD March 10, 2010 – State’s Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy will urge the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Thursday to pass Senate Bills 44, 274 and 563 to strengthen gun laws, protect public safety and support law enforcement efforts to continue the steady decline in gun violence and historic low crime rates achieved in Baltimore.
In testimony before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, State’s Attorney Jessamy will note the significance of several factors that have contributed to the steady decrease of felony gun possession cases, non-fatal shootings and murder cases during the first decade of gun prosecutions under the highly publicized Gun Safety & Responsibility Act of 2000.
Lauded at that time as the best and most comprehensive gun bill in the nation and enacted during a highly publicized visit by President Bill Clinton o Annapolis in May 2000, Baltimore prosecutors have charged hundreds of convicted felons with the illegal possession of a regulated firearm since the 2000 gun law took effect in October that year. Upon conviction, the courts can sentence offenders to just one penalty; a minimum, maximum and mandatory no-parole penalty of 5-years incarceration.
“Exactly ten years ago, I was here in Annapolis to shape a gun bill that has helped build a cumulative, positive momentum toward the reduction of violent gun crime in Baltimore,” said State’s Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy. “Baltimore prosecutors have secured hundreds of 5-year no parole sentences for violent felons caught with regulated firearms,” said Mrs. Jessamy.
“I believe we are witnessing historic decreases in gun crime that can be attributed to the strategic enforcement and prosecution of gun felons under this new law, efforts at the Central Booking Intake Facility (CBIF) War Room begun in 2002 that focused on bail, the expansion of the EXILE program in 2006, and new city initiatives like GunStat and the Gun Registry Program,” says State’s Attorney Jessamy.
“We are making progress, but more work remains,” said State’s Attorney Jessamy.
Jessamy will highlight a gun timeline that includes partnerships that have contributed to a decrease in gun violence in Baltimore:
War Room at Central Booking
Statistics indicate that in 2009, prosecutors at the Central Booking & Intake Facility (CBIF) and War Room identified 1685 violent repeat offenders arrested on new gun and felony charges. These offenders were identified based on a review of their prior criminal convictions and probation status. Prosecutors made bail recommendations to commissioners and at district court bail reviews. Statistics show that 1399 offenders charged with new gun and felony crimes were held without bail through the offender’s first court appearance in 2009. The War Room began operations in September 2002.
Begun as Project Disarm in 1995, the State’s Attorney’s Office has worked with our federal partners to expand the federal Exile program to include 3 cross-designated Assistant State’s Attorneys acting as Special Assistant United State’s Attorneys. This partnership has allowed for the expansion of efforts to identify and prosecute violent repeat offenders – and includes better coordination and communication following the arrest of a violent offender and an expansion of electronic investigations involving gangs, and drug traffickers. The FIVE Division (Firearms Investigative Violence Enforcement) serves as a clearinghouse for most gun cases prosecuted in Baltimore.
City GunStat Program and Gun Registry - These new city initiatives have helped to identify and prosecute juvenile and adult gun offenders and monitor gun offenders in the community. GunStat provides a useful forum to prioritize and streamline evidence and secure witnesses in upcoming gun cases to achieve the best possible outcome. The Gun Registry has helped to closely monitor convicted gun offenders who live in Baltimore.
Collateral Division of the State’s Attorney’s Office – In a unique partnership with the State Division of Parole & Probation, prosecutors and probation agents work in the War Room, at GunStat and in regular meetings between prosecutors and law enforcement to identify offenders on parole and probation who have been arrested on a new charge. Using a network of technology alerts, these cases are carefully tracked by probation officers and prosecutors to obtain violation of probation warrants with pre-set bails for violent repeat offenders. Hundreds of hearings are scheduled annually by probation agents.
State’s Attorney Jessamy will urge the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee to pass Senate Bills 274, 44 and 563. These bills address needed improvements to current gun laws. Jessamy will testify in favor of a more flexible penalty for the violation of the restriction against possession of a regulated firearm by a person who was previously convicted of a specified felony and will recommend the 5-year mandatory no parole sentence be expanded to include up to 15 years incarceration. She will also urge the expansion of the definition of regulated firearms to include long guns and rifles to prohibit convicted felons to legally possess long guns and rifles. She will testify in favor of a bill that prohibits convicted felons from possessing ammunition. Federal laws prohibit felons from possessing ammunition.
“These bills close loopholes, strengthen public safety and are needed to move us forward. For example, under the 2000 statute, it is still legal for a convicted felon to legally possess a rifle, and to walk down a street in Baltimore. We need to change that,” said State’s Attorney Jessamy.